Our First Meeting of the Season
Well what a way to start the new season. All went without a technical hitch, and the sun shone enough for me to get sun burnt!
After a dizzying drive round increasingly narrow and winding Cotswold roads, we found ourselves at Brand House Farm, and an expansive grass field with the most breath taking views. The nature of the field, with is slopes, dips and a public footpath lead to a fair bit of discussion (and indecision!) about which part of the field to set up on, and so our patient and understanding competitors were asked to relocate their cars a number of times. It was worth it though to ensure all attendees had the best view of the sport.
The start of the meeting was very busy, getting the field set up, measuring many new dogs, and remeasuring others. We had a fantastic entry, though due to injuries and seasons we had a few late withdrawals, resulting in one 8 dog stake becoming a 4 dog stake, and a few extra bye rounds. A total of 44 whippets ran in competition, making five 8 dog stakes and two 4 dog stakes. We also had a larger than normal number of dogs come for trials and puppies wanting schooling.
The morning was cold, as I had expected, but dry which was the important thing. Our first round course of 600 meters saw many new dogs and yearlings, get the more experienced paws sweating! Ameesha Pure Satin and Pewtergrey Georgette, two débutante bitches couldn't have been hungrier for it and battled the whole way, while Gill's Little Gem just needed to hold her confidence at the furthest reach of the course.
The run up was fairly short, leaving many pairings neck and neck, and deciding points coming very late in the course, which made for some great rounds. There were also some less than great runs! Two of last year's Season Finals winners were lucky to get through their first rounds on a bye. One freestyled, even running across the middle of the field and straight between the judges, the other would have lost out to his mother who ran (a real blinder!) with him. I think a winter on the sofa went to my own Penny Paynes Blue Grey's head, and excitement got the better of her. The least said of her interpretation of the course the better (I think Sharon summed it up when she said “she put in some lovely turns, its a pity none were the ones we set out”).
After a short lunch break, and picnics in the now warming sun, the second round got under way. As a reversal of the first, it gave a long run out, which separated the whippets on speed and stamina. All the runners did well, putting in worthy performances to be proud of. Those who had forgotten themselves in the earlier round regained their focus and once more showed themselves to be tough to better. The same can't be said of some of the first round losers (yes, I am talking about my own PPBG!) who got a second run before the finals, allowing our trainee slipper and trainee judge a chance to practice. I'm pleased to say that after George's flying start, both passed muster and will be in charge for April's meeting!
For the final, a new course was laid out of approximately 500 meters, with a challenging series of turns (well, they were challenging me to stay on the back of the quad while threading the lure round the pulleys!). There were some hard fought battles, all dogs thoroughly deserved their rosettes.
It was a lovely day in great company. How nice it was to sit on dry grass and picnic in the sun! Not to forget the luxury of a real toilet.
Thanks to Bob Pittam for finding the ground for us and to the gamekeeper Andy Fisher and landowner Peter Regis for letting us come. We have been told we are welcome
back any time so watch this space! Thanks also to judge Mark Bicknell for judging and watching over our trainee Judge.
Thank you to all who helped in one way or another (I think that applies to everyone who came!), but extra special thanks to Biddy for keeping the workers fed and watered, and Ben and Szabi for waving flags and filling in cards when Sharon and myself were caught up with other tasks.
I can't wait for next month, and I recommend you get your entries in early, I think stakes are going to fill up fast. You can find details here.
See you all then!